American Taoist priest in Taiwan

I just came across this clip and now I’m fascinated by this man:

My Chinese isn’t good enough to follow the video properly, but a little digging online tells me his name is Michael Saso. He came to Taiwan as a Jesuit priest a long time ago and ended up remaining as a Taoist priest.

Has anybody here encountered this man before and know where he’s located, or if he’s even still in Taiwan at all?

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Interesting. Somewhere in Tainan.

This guy can’t be Saso. He is in his 80s or something and a Prof from Hawaii I think. I wonder who he is?

Pretty cool regardless.

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You’re right. He doesn’t look anything like Michael Saso either. I guess there is (or was) more than one Western Taoist priest in Taiwan. Very interesting. Would love to know more about who this guy is.

Most of you speak Chinese. Contact the TV station. Find the producer.
I’m really facinated by foreigners who live here, successfully, off the (foreign) grid without the need to ask forums like Forumossa for any help.
Writers: This would be a great Let’s Talk in English or Taiwan Panorama story.

You assume we care enough to do so.

And what an impressively condescending post. You manage to talk down about everyone in Forumosa and those involved in discussing this topic in so few words; my hat is off to you!


Are you responding to The Seeker? That’s not how I read his post. I’m not sure he was being condescending.

Yeah, Saso is like 90 years old and semi-retired in CA. This is somebody else. There was another French Daoist, Schipper, but those are the only two foreigners I’ve heard of who were ordained in Daoist traditions.

How does that happen?

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That’s about 95% of foreigners.

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It is normally a father-son transmission. Saso wrote about it in “Taoist Master Chang.” Parts of it are secret (I remember), Saso said he was more or less adopted, and he believed his teacher died prematurely for teaching him. Saso was also harshly criticized in an epic Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (1980). I’ve met him before and am actually a huge fan but he combines practitioner and scholar in a way that makes many people uncomfortable.

I don’t know who the guy in the video is. There are two major Daoist traditions in Taiwan, but when people say they are Daoist they also sometimes just mean folk religious.

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Thanks for the info. Saso sounds like a fascinating person from what you’ve written and what I found about him online. You’re lucky to have met him.

Do you know if it’s controversial for non-Chinese to practice authentic Taoism in Taiwan or was it just controversial for Saso because he was ordained or because of his unorthodox practitioner/scholar approach?

I googled around and the guy’s name is Stephen M. Flanigan.

I think Daoism is changing, but 40-50 years ago it was still taught through the family and temple.

Thanks. I was able to find a video about him in English:


You are right. @The_Seeker Ignore my above post; I was in a butt hurting mood for some reason.


This could have been me 20 years ago if I actually completed my MA and went on to my PhD. Ahhh - the life I could have lived in a different reality.

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Funny, and we were talking about this recently, historical traditional medicine practices were explained to me in similar terms once (by a TCM doctor).

Why thank you Noel! You manage to turn a person who looks up to and practically worships the old time Forumosans into a condescending git.
Due to personal learning issues Chinese has been difficult and if I had the power, I’d research it as I had for other people with things I’m good at.
Now, Mr Noel. Forumossa saved my countless times allowing me to win the right (through appeal) to get a driver’s license, one of the first work permits not tied to the ARC (again through special forms created by the Forumossa moderator) when my boss was bullying me and assisted us all in getting the multi year and joining family visas when this stuff was new.
I was really, in a maybe not so polite, but worshipping way trying to ask someone to use their Chinese Superpower and perhaps curiosity and take a few moments to make some simple calls to pin down something that I’d do if I had the language ability.
And your comment “You assume we care enough to do so.”
What an anti curiosity attitude. I care about anything a fellow Forumossan is interested in especially about local history, current events, computers and personal issues and would and have helped them if and when I had the ability to do so.
I would never talk down to this group.


Looks to me like there was some misunderstanding due to this internet medium.


Most of us think that way. :sunglasses:
Don’t look back, what could have, should have, might have…